Clash of the Titans

San Diego is known for many things, mostly its blue skies and idyllic scenery, but the city also knows a thing or two about throwing a party.

Industry night, especially, is a mainstay at San Diego’s Side Bar in the downtown area, which is the biggest night for the venue says General Manager Ali Pouladin.

“We do a lot of different gimmicks on our industry night,” Pouladin says.

Last year, Pouladin was struck by a rousing idea that would continue building on the momentum of the club’s industry night by incorporating bars in the area.

“I think I was sitting at a coffee shop one day trying to think of new stuff. For some reason, the "Clash of the Titans" came to my mind — the whole concept,” he explains.

Following the success of last year’s Clash of the Titans industry night, an eight-week contest that pits eight teams of four guest bartenders — two of whom have to be experienced bartenders — against each other every Wednesday for the duration of the two-month competition, is starting up again but this time with higher stakes.

Last year’s Clash of the Titans winner, the bartenders at The Shore Club in Pacific Beach, received a trip to Vegas. This year, for Clash of the Nightlife Titans 2 — “We changed the name a little bit,” Pouladin admits — the team with the best overall sales receives the grand prize of $10,000.

Shore Club

Bartenders at The Shore Club in Pacific Beach won last year's Clash of the Titans competition.

Pouladin says what makes Side Bar’s industry night stand out is that it’s done with a downtown twist.

Industry Night at Side Bar is a long-standing party, he explains. Beginning in June 2009, the party grew and evolved, becoming “by far our best night of the week,” Pouladin says.

Even when a venue down the street started its own industry night, Pouladin wasn’t threatened, although he admits, it “hurt us a little bit.” He noticed, however, that it brought more people to downtown San Diego. “People bounce around,” from club to club, he said, but also it made him aware that Side Bar needed to stay fresh with the industry night, which is why creating a special annual event was necessary.

“This year, we’re all about coming out and being aggressive and being bigger,” he says.

Entries were accepted until April 4, but Pouladin has been planning the event since March. He said he likes to plan ahead, especially for a competition starting in May. Pouladin and his team then will choose the bars and bartenders that best represent San Diego.

“It creates business for that night and the future,” Pouladin says of the Industry Night competition. “It’s definitely important for us to be able to get our product out to a new consumer.”

The winner will be determined based on overall sales of each night including bar sales, bottle-service sales and a special average created by Side Bar.

Because Wednesday night usually means clientele has to work in the morning, it’s important for Industry Night to “feel like a Saturday night,” he adds. “People don’t go out on Wednesday night because they don’t think it’ll be that crazy, hence why the $10,000 is worth it to us. It gives us future business and a lot more fresh faces. Fresh faces are the most important part.”

The trick to a successful industry night relies more on strategy than anything else. The internal competition may be amongst San Diego bartenders fighting for ultimate supremacy, but also it’s a business venture for smart business venture for Pouladin. “We’re picking teams that are going to have a major affect on the night for us. Teams that will bring in a substantial amount of people,” he says. “We’ve all been doing this for a long time, and we have a good feel for who would fit and who wouldn’t fit, as far as this is concerned.”

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